Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Games and Gaming #35: Games? In the Library?

Summer is on its way, and summer is a time for fun at the library! When you think about summer fun, games probably come to mind. But games in the library? There has been a lot of talk about gaming in the library world lately, and gaming events for kids and teens are becoming more and more popular. In this post, we'll look at a few benefits of gaming and try a few web-based games. In the second post, we'll explore Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games or MMORPGs. In the third post, we'll take a look at the relevance of gaming in the library. Finally, in the fourth post, we'll look at console gaming. All posts for this module will be made in May, but the module will last through though the end of July. If you complete the exercises for these four posts, you will receive 2 hours of training credit.

Let's get the fun started.

If you can't see the video, watch it on YouTube.

Games aren't just a way to pass the time. When Windows debuted, using a mouse with the computer was a relatively new thing, and Microsoft came up with a way to teach people to learn about pointing and clicking, dragging and dropping. What did they come up with? That's right, Solitaire! If you've used a Windows PC, you've probably played Solitaire or Minesweeper. For first time computer users, these can be a great way to become comfortable with using the mouse!

It may be difficult at first to see the value of games in teaching information literacy. Recently, at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference, Eli Neiburger of the Ann Arbor Public Library gave a presentation about this very subject. He said that common perceptions of gaming are that it is an antisocial activity, that they are a waste of time, that most video games are violent and that they are an enemy of literacy. He went on to discuss that video games actually require advanced literacy, that only 15% of the video games sold are rated M for Mature, and that gamers tend to be more successful in the workplace than non-gamers. He also outlined the critical workplace skills that games tend to help develop, which include comprehension, spatial reasoning, research skills and perseverance.

For quite a while now, we've been talking about all sorts of web-based tools that allow us to increase our productivity. Games are no different--there are a variety of games available online that you can play anywhere without burdening your computer with the huge files required to play them. They can be found almost anywhere online.

For example, FreeRice is a vocabulary game where you are given a word and must choose the correct definition from a group of four answer choices. For every word you get correct, FreeRice donates 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program to end world hunger. You can have fun and help others!

WordSplay is a word-building game that first appeared under the name WEBoggle. When you start the timer, you are given an assortment of letters. You form words using adjacent letters and type them in, pressing ENTER or the spacebar to score. After three minutes, the game ends and you receive your final score.

You may have noticed the popularity of the Japanese puzzle game known as Sudoku. In Sudoku, your objective is to fill a 9×9 grid so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 boxes (also called blocks or regions) contains the digits from 1 to 9 only one time each. Each puzzle is partially completed to get you started, and the degree of difficulty determines how many spaces are filled in for you. The Houston Chronicle offers Sudoku online along with crosswords and other puzzles!

In addition, there are many online games available for kids. The PBS Kids site offers a few educational choices, as does FunBrain. Cool Math 4 Kids offers fun math games and puzzles as well as math lessons from addition and subtraction up through pre-algebra and geometry.


1) Spend 15 minutes trying out one of the web-based games mentioned: FreeRice, WordSplay, online Sudoku, or try one of the games meant for kids.

2) Make a blog post about your thoughts on the benefits of gaming and the game you played. Did you find it easy to learn the rules and get started? Can you think of any skills the game might help you build?

This post was brought to you by Michele McKian and Abigail Buchold.


Anonymous said...

Reading the new developmental potential of gamers was really a shock. I’m glad to hear gaming has beneficial uses. I’m planning to send some of that information to my friends who have World of War Craft fanatic sons. The Free Rice game was very engaging. I like to play challenging games of that nature. I was surprised how quickly it drew me in. Even the children’s math games were helping me brush up my math skills.

Kiara said...

I like FreeRice, it helped me enhanced my vocabulary. Sudoku, I have this as Download Game, and I find them so challenging. At times, the puzzle is giving me a hard time, but I went well. Math4 kids, well, this game is helping me remember specific lessons.